26November 2018

What ‘Out of the Box’ Really Means

It didn’t happen to me, but hearing about it made a lasting impression.

It was a story about a guy in San Francisco.

His life was going great. He went to his computer engineering job every day, rode his bike the same way to work, stopped at the same coffee shop, read social media updates from the same people, went to dinner parties with the same group of friends.

It was stable and harmonious. He fit right in.


It started to dawn on him that maybe that very harmony was a problem. He started to get curious about his life, and the pattern in which it operated.

It all started to seem narrow, like he was only seeing and interacting with a slice of his city and his life, like every experience was a ‘tailored-for-you’ recommendation from Spotify.

He decided it was time to bust out.

Two skiers watch from top as another skier heads down a knife ridge

Enter, Facebook. (Yep, still handy, not always evil.)

He changed his settings so he would get a notification about any event within a one-hour drive that was open to all, no invitation required.

And every time he was notified of an event, he went.

Miniature dog outfit swap and picnic? He went.

Science fiction spoken word and square dance? He went.

Memorial for the president of the local Jimmy Buffet fan club?

You guessed it. He went.

And it was awkward.

These were not his people. Conversation didn’t fall into a predictable rhythm of shared agreement. They could tell he was the odd one out.

But his mission was exactly that. To step out of the predictable groove. To spend time with people – unique, individual people – that he would normally have grouped into a handy, all-encompassing stereotype in his mind.

And whether he found any common ground with their love of doggie overalls or Margaritaville, he felt common ground with heir humanity, overwhelmingly.

His experiment lasted for over a year, and then he went back to life as normal.

He didn’t change his job, or his bike route, or his coffee shop, or his core group of friends.

It’s not like he tried to trade out his own quirks and interest and sphere of comfort.

But he went back to that slice of life changed. He went back to it aware of all the variety around him – the great, interesting people doing bizarre, wonderful things with as much passion as he pursued his own interests.

It was a fresh way of seeing.

Helicopter pilot and out the front window view of a helicopter flying in winter in the mountains

So, why am I telling you this story?

Because for me, just hearing it changed something.

The freshness was so appealing. I felt a bit guilty for not stretching my own comfort zone more often.

And while we don’t have a lush, diverse city at our disposal, the idea at the core of this story has become a deliberate tactic for inspiration, every time we feel like we’re in the same loop, and the senses are getting dull.

We make a decision to show up for something new. Ideally, something entirely unrelated to what we do.

The trampoline park, the stand-up comic, the art workshop, the unfamiliar city or the documentary about up-and-coming technology.

Interesting things follow you home.

I’m convinced we need to reach outside out bubbles so we don’t suffocate on sameness, so we have a chance to let all the many expressions of human creativity inspire us.

A fresh way of seeing affects everything. Contrast makes the brights brighter, and salt makes the sweet sweeter.

An inspired season of heli-skiing is about to start. We went outside the bubble and came back stoked. We’re BUSTING to get at it.

If you ever need a re-injection of stoke, go be with someone who’s great at what they do, no matter what they do. You’ll feel it.


Our new packages sprung out of some outside-the-box inspiration. Read How A Crazy Idea Became Reality next.



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